Featured, Motivation Comments Off on How to consistently click miles every week |

How to consistently click miles every week

With an insatiable appetite for running, Divya Vasishta has quite a story to tell. In this conversation with Deepthi Velkur, she explains what drives her passion.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir (Naturalist and Preservationist).

Probably one of the most compelling quotes that says it all for many outdoor lovers and definitely apt for our guest today – Divya Vasishta.

Divya hails from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, a scenic mountain town, so it’s no wonder that her runs always seem to take her to the hills.

She is by no means a career runner – running happened by accident 5 years ago and she juggles a busy corporate life (quality head with a US-based organization) with her undying passion for running and the mountains.

Her running timeline might be short but she has covered the spectrum – countless 10Ks, Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons, Trail Running and also Ultra runs.

We had ourselves a tête-à-tête and I was fascinated by her story. Read on and chances are you will be too.

FM: It’s been 5 years since you started running, what inspired you to pick up such a tough endurance sport?

Divya: I never liked running on a treadmill but I had to for a long time as I spent quite a few years in Canada and the severe winters made it hard to run outdoors. A few years later though, I moved to California famed for its gorgeous weather and scenery, I started to head out for my runs every day for about 30 mins.

After having spent 10 years out of the country, we decided to move back to Bangalore. It was definitely a huge change for me. The weekends seemed empty with nowhere to go camping, no hills to climb, no trails to walk on and I ended up running longer durations inside my housing layout.

Initially, it started out as an aimless activity until a friend suggested that I participate in a 10k run back in 2013 to begin with, which I did and the experience of the race was enthralling. That paved the way forward and I have never looked back since. For the first two years, the focus was to improve my timings and then later on, I focused on building and testing my endurance and this became a vicious cycle with no end.

No distance ever seemed enough for me initially. I was curious to see how much further I could go and fast forward 3 years, I have run a maximum distance of 100K in 14 hours 20 minutes in the Bangalore Ultra. I also completed the Khardung La Challenge in Leh (the world’s highest Ultra marathon at 17582 feet) a distance of 72K.

Since 2013, I have completed 13 Ultra events and countless half and full marathons. I always enjoyed runs that are challenging with a sole purpose of finishing them comfortably and maintaining a constant pace. I personally prefer the quieter and smaller events and always look forward to trying new routes with new organisers.

The first 2 years of my running life took me to different locales but it was always the hills that kept calling and brought me a kind of peace that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Having discovered running in the hills, I have completed events in Ooty, Munnar, Manipur, Leh, Manali (Solang Sky running – being the toughest so far) as well as Shimla.  This year, I became the 3rdfemale runner from India to run the Everest marathon.

I haven’t limited myself just to running in the hills obviously – I enjoy running in California and completed the Big Sur marathon which is considered a beautiful run but very challenging owing to the weather conditions. I have also completed a 143.9K run during the 24-hour Bangalore stadium run last year.

FM: Fascinating and amazing to see what you have achieved in 5 years. Prior to 2013, what kind of sports where you in to?

Divya: I have always been an active and outdoorsy person. Back in school, I loved running on the tracks and tried my hand at different sports like field and track events, basketball, hockey and mini marathons. With college and the initial few years of working, these activities took a backseat. Post marriage, my partner and myself started going on short treks in our free time. Hitting the gym became a part of my daily routine. In 2006, step aerobics fascinated me and quickly became one of my favourite activity. We (my partner and myself) had done a few treks of which the Machu Picchu, few in Alaska and the Everest Base Camp clearly were my favourites. Between 2010-13, I appointed a personal trainer and he used to set up various routines for me and then it was only in 2013, that I started running.

FM: That explains the ease with which you have acclimatized yourself to ultra-running.  This is me being curious – how was your lifestyle prior and how has that changed since you started running?

Divya: In terms of routine, not much has changed in my life. I have always been disciplined in everything I do. Early rising, timely intake of food and hitting the bed early has been my routine for the longest time. Food habits have changed for the better. For instance, I used to eat a lot of processed food and that has completely stopped now. I prefer eating fresh home-cooked meals and drinking natural juices. 

FM: Managing your professional, personal as well passion for running takes a lot out of a person. How do you manage this and what do you do to unwind?

Divya: I really didn’t have to make a lot of compromises. I started running when I was well-settled at work. There was no need to commute to work daily and work related travel was manageable too and was a part of my routine life. Both my husband and myself are morning people. I just had to wake up a little earlier so I could clear up any work-related emails and then head out for my morning run. While travelling, it becomes a bit hard to manage my runs so I make sure to manage expectations during those days and plan my work and running accordingly. And I never forget to pack my running shoes wherever I go.

Running is relaxing for me, but a spa appointment for a deep tissue massage and foot reflexology is a reward for myself (smiles).

FM: To be able to clock 9455Km in such a short time is astounding. Did you imagine you would have achieved this in less than 5 years? Do you set at a yearly target for yourself?

Divya: I was never interested in numbers, like setting up a monthly or yearly target. What I do is set myself a mileage target of 60K every week and try to achieve it on most days. My tally seems very less in comparison to other Ultra runners. But I feel, if I run a lot (especially training runs), I’ll probably start disliking running so I run the tracks I enjoy. Sometimes a training run of 35K stresses me but at the same time I enjoy running a 100K event.

FM: Another mind-boggling statistic is the fact that you have a podium finish in greater than 50% of the events you have participated? What are the 3 key factors that help you achieve this?

Divya: You are right. Out of 55 events, I’ve had about 27 podiums wins. I would say – It just happened. Though I’ve had podiums in the open category too but most of them have been in 45+ age category, so being a veteran probably led to this and I see it as an advantage. I really don’t run with a competitive mind.

FM: Congratulations on finishing the Comrades marathon last year – such a fascinating run especially given its origins. What interested you in taking part in this event?

Divya: Curiosity, I think. I wanted to see why runners are so crazy about this run and I guess I did find my answer. It’s a run with an amazing aura. I finished the race which is approximately a 89KM run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. It is considered the World’s Largest and one of the oldest Ultra-marathons, which was first held in 1921. The race has very strict cut-off time of 12hours and I managed to finish it in 11 hrs and 42 minutes. 

FM: Obviously, your training program for this run would have been different from your normal training. Can you please share a few snippets into the differences?

Divya: One needs to be diligent and disciplined in preparing for any targeted run, especially a run as challenging as this with strict cut-off points. It only tends to increase the pressure which may lead to unnecessary stress.

My goal was just to finish the run within the cut-off time and with that in mind, I prepared my own training plan and stayed within my normal weekly mileage, with an exception of 2 or 3 weeks where I exceeded it. I also added hill runs to my routine, almost every weekend and most of the events I went to were in the hilly terrains which got me stepping out of my regular running route. Being the only female from Bangalore to participate in this event that year, I had to look for a group running this event. The drive to the location for the training runs was quite far from my place and that led me to start driving in India, which I dislike doing, especially during the dark, early morning hours. I don’t remember missing a single run as per my calendar.

FM: So, where is your next big run and what plans do you have for the next few months?

Divya: A 100 miler in a decent time for sure.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Events, Featured Comments Off on Running in the beautiful Chamundi Hills |

Running in the beautiful Chamundi Hills

Deepthi Velkur talks to Ajit Thandur on his experience of organising the Chamundi Hill Challenge and why is it an exciting course for runners.

MYSOORUNNERS were the proud hosts of the Chamundi Hill Challenge 2018, an exciting race that gives you a good experience of up and downhill asphalted roads, winding forest trails, uneven cobbled tracks and steps.

The Chamundi Hill Challenge organized by Enduro events, saw its 4thedition this year and the man behind this is Ajit Thandur. This run includes varying distances of 5k, 10k and 21k.

We got talking to Ajit on his experience of organizing this event and why he thinks this is an event that you must take part in.

The Chamundi Hill Challenge appears to be quite a favorite course? What in your opinion draws runners to it?

The course is not just a regular hill run – it offers a ton of variety during the run. It includes nearly 300 metres of centuries old uneven granite steps and cobbled stones, a 3.5km jungle trail and asphalted road.

One of the points we stress on when someone registers is to enjoy the course. This is a beautiful course and by no stretch of imagination, is it a personal best course.

2018 saw the 4thedition of this exciting run – what kind of enrollment increases have you seen year-on-year?

When we started off, we saw nearly 250 runners in the 1st edition. This year (our 4thedition), we saw over 450 runners. Numbers can be better but the fact remains, it’s a tough course!

What lessons have Enduro Events learnt over the past years that will help you make this event even more popular?

Experience has taught us that we need better management of various aspects involved in organising such a race:

+) Frequency of aid stations depending on the kind of race and course.

+) Ideal needs for each aid station depending on its location.

+) Logistics such as having volunteers on wheels to keep vigil on participants,   accidents, injury to inform the medical team.

+) Efficient waste management to make sure we don’t leave any inorganic waste anywhere on the course.

There are some more aspects but hard to list out the more minute ones.

In terms of promoting the event – apart from social media, do you run any other promotional activities?

Not as far as Chamundi Hill Challenge goes. We only rely on social media.

Only for Tri Thonnur, another event organized by us, we do have weekend swim sessions in the Thonnur Lake. That’s because there are many first timers for open water swims each year.


Organizing an event of such scale requires a lot of a planning, coordination and
governance. Can you please provide your view on how Enduro events goes about setting this up?

There are mainly two factors in organising any sporting event, especially when we utilise public properties such as roads, parks, stadiums, lakes etc.

The first is to seek permissions from various government bodies such as the City Corporation, Police (both Law and Order, Traffic), Public Works Department etc.

This invariably takes time since there are so many offices to coordinate with. So we start work on these aspects a few months prior to the event.
The second is our own internal planning:

  • Routes (choosing the best depending on road conditions, advice from Traffic Police etc)
  • Number of volunteers required (This includes volunteers driven by passion and paid Volunteers…. strange terminology but it exists.)
  • Number of aid stations required, specific needs there. Quantities of water, hydration drinks, fruits, jaggery, salt, lime, etc.
  • Ideal location for ambulance with Medical support team.
  • Medals, Trophies, T shirts ( all to be designed ordered at least a month ahead).
  • Post-race breakfast/brunch.
  • Appointing MC, public address systems, music, etc.

Who are the key team members involved in making this event happen?

We are a team of 5 – Anil, Vijay, Abhilash, Prajwal, Naveen and myself.

Funding and sponsorship are a challenge for most events – how does Enduro events manage to secure this? Who are your key sponsors?

Sponsorship surely is a key to see such events through. This year we had National Public School as our title sponsors. Sparsh Hospitals, Bangalore have been our medical support team and sponsors for 5 years now. That apart, we have a list of local businesses who support us.

For the 3 runs – Tough 21K, Challenge 10K and Majja 5K, do you have a cap in terms of
enrollment?
 

We don’t have a cap so far. But the need might arise if we see more than 1000 runners. 

You obviously know the course very well – what advice would you like the runners to heed so that they enjoy the course while staying safe?

This is a course to enjoy and not one to achieve a personal best. Challenge 21 is two loops of Tough 10 (actually 10.5k in terms of distance). Each loop is about 6.5k of road, 500 m of steps and cobble stones and 3.5k of jungle trail. So we ask runners to be extremely careful while negotiating the steps and the jungle course.

Video Link of the event: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1itgVXJfpSaESnbmEn3RLeIRjAf8nwvn2/view?usp=drivesdk

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Seeing the world one trail at a time |

Seeing the world one trail at a time

Deepthi Velkur talks to the first Indian Woman, Aakriti Verma to have taken part in the World Trail Championship.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Aakriti Verma certainly wants to live up to this inspiring quote. With a little over four years of running experience, she has already achieved the adulating distinction of being the only Indian woman to take part at the World Trail Championships.

A HR professional with a leading IT firm for the past 6 years, Aakriti uses her national-level swimming experience to cross-train along with the runs. Her focus is not on clocking a heap of miles on a daily basis, instead she sets targets for each run and pushes herself to achieve it.

Apart from competing at the world championships, Aakriti has been a podium finisher in major running events such as Urban Stampede, Malnad Ultra, Jawadhu Hill Ultra, Yercaud Hills Ultra, Bull hill 50k run across the country in distances ranging from 5KM to 100 KM. She is also an Ironman distance triathlon finisher. Phew!

As if that wasn’t energy-sapping enough, she finds time to conduct daily fitness sessions for more than 500 colleagues as well as organizing running events at her organization.

Excerpts from our conversation

HR professional to long-distance enthusiast to being the 1stIndian woman at the IAU Trail World championship, you sure where a lot of hats. How do you manage to keep it all together?

It has never been easy as there is a lot of hard work, sacrifice and discipline behind it. Time management is also the key and you need to manage your time well to excel at work and also make time for your training. So, I prioritize much of my time for work during the weekdays and for training and races on the weekends.

You were a national-level swimmer at school and still use it as part of your fitness regime. How has that helped your transition into long-distance running? 

Swimming is the best sport which involves movement of all the muscles in your body and surely helps to build a lot of stamina. This is definitely the best cross training workout for runners and also helps in my recovery process. I resumed swimming after college to train for my triathlons, though my focus for the last year has been towards running ultra-marathons.

You have been into long-distance running for nearly 4 years now and since the past year, you have focused more on trail running. What piqued your interest into that specific area?

I started off with running 5K and 10K’s and took up long distance running only in last couple of years. Trail running has definitely interested me more as I feel it is more challenging and you spend your time close to nature mostly in the mountains which attracts me to this sport.

Being the first woman to be a part of a 6-member team representing the country at the 2018 IAU Trail World Championship in Spain is a ground-breaking achievement. How did you feel when you heard the news and was there any sort of pressure on you?

It was indeed a proud moment for me to be part of the Indian team. This being my first appearance in an international race, it was a mix of excitement and pressure as I was the only female to represent India in this sport. Hopefully I would be paving the way for lot of other females to build themselves in this sport.

You needed to accumulate 500 ITRA (International Trail running association) points to qualify and be a part of the Indian team at the Trail World Championship. How did you go about achieving that?

To be honest, I wasn’t focusing much on my cotation points. All I did was to participate in most of the trail ultras across India and give my best at every race. The cutoff points for female runners last year was 500 and I was lucky enough to get 530 odd points through my Malnad Ultra.

The world championship course I’m sure was very technical. Can you tell us something more about the course?

The terrain was very technical and it was my first time being on these trails and they are quite different from the trails in India which are rather smooth runnable trails. Most of the sections of the race were uphill and downhill which made it even more challenging. Apart from the technicality, the stiff intermediate cutoffs made the race that much more tough.

In Spain, you had to come off after more than half the race was done. What was the challenge and where do you see as areas you need to work on?

I would have been able to complete the race irrespective of the difficulty and technicality but the stiff intermediate cutoffs were a huge challenge due to which I had to pull off from the race. By spending more time training in such technical trails found mostly in the Himalayan range will definitely help me tackle such courses better.

How many races have you ran in India and overseas? Which has been the most treasured race till date? Why?

I have run more than 29 races across India and one international race. The most treasured race is definitely the Solang Sky Ultra organized by The Hell Race team. This is the only race in India that comes close to the technical trails found in Europe. This race has given me immense learning, helped me overcome my fear of running technical sections along the trail and has enhanced me to train myself better. I was extremely delighted as I was the only female runner to have finished the race within the cutoff time till date.

For trail running in specific, is there a specific training you need to follow as opposed to running a regular marathon?

Yes, there is a vast difference as the training required for trail ultra-running is completely different versus road marathon training. To run trails, you need to spend lot of time running in the mountains, plan your nutrition, hydration, training in high altitudes, running with backpacks etc.

What races do you plan on taking part in for the remaining part of the year?

With the running season almost coming to an end, I am glad that I participated in some new races this year like Solang Sky Ultra, Mawkyrwat Ultra. Next, I plan to run the SRT (Sinhagad-Rajgad-Torna)Ultra and Vagamon Ultrail next year.

Follow Aakriti’s running journey on Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/aakritiverma06/  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Featured Comments Off on Running in the Sky Together |

Running in the Sky Together

Our duo columnists, Mahalakshmi and Sandeep talk about how they conquered the Solang Sky Ultra, India’s only Sky running event in the Himalayas.

“Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually, and of course, physically” – Bart Yasso.

I enjoy running – it’s a chance for me to go where my own two feet can carry me (literally).

It’s calming and repetitive. I have also found that the common running tenets of competitiveness, determination, positive thinking are the beliefs that I want to base my life goals on. It seems to me that running does a lot of good for a person and fits into my life quite well.

One of my running journeys took me up into the beautiful Solang valley in Himachal Pradesh that stands at an elevation of 8,400 feet. With the gorgeous Himalayas forming the backdrop, the Solang SkyUltra is India’s only mountain running race and is part of the Hell Race endurance series.

Skyrunning, as it is called is a high-altitude trail run and an extreme sport of mountain running that is run at an altitude of higher than 2000 meters and an incline of greater than 30%. These runs require a lot of technicality in terms of climbing and tackling the narrow trails.

“A wild story of human endeavour and sheer willpower”

This Solang Sky Ultra race has 3 categories – 10KM, 30KM, and 60KM respectively. The gain in elevation varies from 600, 2200m and 3800m for each category respectively. Mahalakshmi Sagar (my partner) and I registered for the 30KM race with a lot of uncertainty in our minds. Staying in Bangalore that is known more for its traffic than its trails, our uncertainty was understandable. Now, we have done our fair share of trail running too – the Turahalli trail as well as Yercaud trails for example but we still felt very apprehensive and unsure of the training that is required to tackle such a run.

Uncertainty and apprehensiveness aside, we decided to go ahead. We registered for the race, booked our accommodations and on the 28th of Sep 2018, Mahalakshmi and I along with two of the best amateur trail runners in India (Sampath and Aakriti) headed out to Chandigarh (our first stop). From there, we hired a taxi to Manali and thanks to the heavy rains our journey turned out to be longer and more exhausting than expected. The treacherous 12-hour drive was made palatable watching the wild, raging but beautiful Beas river making its way down the mountainside.

We arrived at the Solang Ski Resort and took the chance to mingle with a few of the runners who had arrived earlier and after a brief rest, we decided to go for an acclimatization walk on the race route.

During the race briefing, we were informed that the race route had been changed due to bad conditions and we were given thorough instructions regarding cut-offs, aid stations, etc. It was a daunting task to organize such an event under the given circumstances and the organizers had done a marvelous job getting things set up. We were ready to go and could not wait for race day.

RACE DAY! The 30KM leg flagged off at 7.30AM from the Solang Ski Resort and the route went down the Anjani Mahadev Temple road which lead us to our first river crossing of the run. They had created a makeshift bridge of a few planks of wood that enabled us to cross the river Beas leading to the harder section of the course.

Once across the river, the route meandered through tiny picturesque villages and then onto the Leh-Manali Highway which provided us with a bit of tarmac to run on. It was quite an easy climb to Jogini Falls. My Partner and I had decided to run the entire race together but halfway through we realized how unprepared we were for the trail, nevertheless, we were quite happy with the progress we made so far.

Jogini falls was a good climb and we were pretty warmed up by now and set our sights on the run ahead. All of a sudden, the race took us by surprise – it went straight through the falls! Obviously, we were soaked to the bone but we limbered on and set our sights on the remaining 16 to 18 KMS of the run.

Running through the waterfall, we hit the trail again and the trail sort of started winding down. Even though it was a downhill, the terrain was slippery and we could not run at the speed we wanted to. We passed through a village and had an aid station before the next climb.

The next section of the race was the most difficult one. Though only 2KMS, it had an elevation gain of 900+ meters. The terrain was rugged, to say the least. Forget running, even walking on this stretch was tough. We both realized, that this was way tougher than what we had imagined. We got really slow on this part, taking slightly more than 2 hours to complete this climb.

When we reached the top, we realized that we had 2 hours left and chances of us finishing before the cut-off’s seemed very unlikely. Nonetheless, we decided to give it a go, we tried to run hard and fast for the remainder of the race. Even though it was mostly downhill from that point on, we just could not get our speed going as the trail was full of slush.

We crossed a few more streams on our way down and that part of the stretch was the most beautiful. Through the winding trails, we finally came down to a gorge which had to be crossed via a century-old British bridge. It had lost its form and the only thing left was its railings. Volunteers helped us get across to the other side.

On crossing the bridge, we realized that if we did not run hard we might miss cut-offs by a good 10 mins. We kept running till we reached, the Manali-Rohtang highway. From there on, we both had decided to walk as we would not make the cut-offs anyway and instead we talked with the locals around and had an easy finish. Though that was not the ideal way we normally do our races, we thought it was worth it. We both decided then that we will do this race again next year and finish strong.

The 2018 race was unprecedented with the podium finishers getting through the course at some unbelievable speeds and setting new course records. In the 60KM race for men – Tianding Wahlang ended up 1st with a new course record time of 7hrs 12 min and 56 sec. Apart from Tianding, the other top two runners also bettered the previous course record of 9hrs 1min and 49 sec.

In the women’s format, there were the first-ever finishers with Aakriti Verma taking 1st place with a time of 13hrs 49min and 56 sec. In 2nd place with a time of 14hrs 44mins and 48 sec was Arpita Maitra which unfortunately was outside of the cutoff time, nevertheless, it is worth a mention. In the 30KM and 10KM categories, the gentlemen from the Gurkha regiment took home the honors with some exceptional running.

Though treacherous, we think races like Solang SkyUltra should happen more often. We thank the organizers for putting up a wonderful race. We truly appreciate the fact that the likes of Vishwas, Nupur, Ashok and Gaurav of the Hell race team are trying to build a culture wherein the runners are not pampered, they give you a tough race that leaves the runners with a feeling of utter satisfaction when they complete it.

As a parting note – we do not recommend this race to anyone who is not trained enough. Work hard on your fitness, train well and then go ahead.

 

ABOUT GUEST COLUMNISTS

 

Mahalakshmi and Sandeep are techies who have a passion for running. They met and married each other through running. They both constantly strive to achieve balance in their professional, active and personal lives.

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Training Comments Off on Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice |

Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice

Deepthi Velkur had a chance to talk to a few runners on how you could prepare for the marathon season. 

For many runners, the desire to run a marathon is all about achieving a personal goal. For others, it could be the desire to push the envelope and see how far they can go with their bodies. Perhaps, a friend talked you into it, or you want to get fitter, or you’re running for a noble cause such as building awareness for a local charity.

Whatever the reason, you need to hold on to it and constantly remind yourself of it often during the months leading up to the marathon season.

Each marathon is a new adventure in itself! Making that overwhelming and sometimes breath-taking decision to run the traditional 42.195 km can not only be quite uplifting but it can also give you the much-needed energy to kick-start your training.

Whether it is your first time preparing for a marathon or one of many, a good overall approach to your mental and physical training is as important as a specific running plan, which can help you be at your best on marathon day.

To help us better understand how you can go about this, we spoke to a few professionals and here’s what they had to say.

Kothandapani KC (fondly called Coach Pani), is a running coach with the PaceMakers running club and a marathon runner himself.

He recommends that for a first-time marathoner, the focus should be on completing the distance comfortably and not worry about speed or timing.

For a seasoned runner though, someone with at least two years of running experience and multiple 10Ks and half-marathons, Coach Panihe recommends the following:

  • Build a training plan 6 months ahead and work backward i.e. 24 weeks, 23 weeks and so on.
  • Run at least 4-5 days a week focussing on one speed workout, one strength workout like uphill runs, one long run, and two easy runs in between.
  • Run your long runs 60-90 secs slower than your target marathon pace and increase your long runs by not more than 10%.
  • Every fourth week cut back your total mileage to 50% to avoid overtraining.
  • Break-down the 6 Months into three parts – base building, converting the base building into speed endurance and race-specific workouts.
  • During long runs, prepare yourself as if you are going to run on race day such as getting your gear ready, waking up early, hydration strategy, pre-snacks etc.
  • Ensure you follow a proper nutrition plan and adequate rest to overcome both physical and mental stress.
  • Always listen to your body. Do not over train – helps minimize the risk of injury. To track this, check your resting heart rate and if it’s on the rise, ease off on the training for a bit.
  • Race at least two Half Marathons during your training period, trying to improve each time so that you get an indication of your progress in training
  • Taper down your training in the last two weeks. Be careful to not fall sick or catch a cold
  • Plan your race day strategy such as at what pace you want to run, hydration points, when to use gels etc. Note: don’t try anything new on race day – stick to the plan!
  • Finally, believe in yourself, believe in your training and think positive. Start the race slow and build the pace gradually. Aim for negative splits.

Sandeep CR, an Ultra-marathon runner and is part of the Mysoorrunners running club shares his advice:

  • Prioritise your races in terms of which race is of top priority, where you want to do well and train accordingly.
  • Build your training slowly. Keep a weekly mileage of 45-55kms which will help you to build endurance.
  • Go on long runs as you need to get used to being on your feet for long hours.
  • Run a few tune-up races before the main race to know where you stand and where you could improve.
  • Keep a close watch on your nutrition intake and give yourself time to recover.
  • 80% of your runs should be at an easy pace and 20% should be tempo or speed work.
  • Slow down your training in the last 2-3 weeks as overtraining will lead to injuries.

Shahana Zuberi, an amateur runner who has run a few half marathons and is part of the Bangalore Fitnesskool running club feels to run a marathon, one should have:

  • Great inner strength.
  • Eating right during the training phase.
  • Focus on building endurance rather than speed.
  • Plan your training well ahead of the race and do not rush into overtraining due to lack of time as that might lead you to injuries.
  • Patience and perseverance will help you achieve your end goal.
  • For running a half marathon in specific, you can work on building speed during the interval and tempo runs and
  • Finally, rest well as your body needs to recover from all the hard training.

So, there you go – you’ve heard it straight from some of the experts – train well, eat right, rest enough and be patient.

These key steps will help you develop a healthier way to run making it more fun, with better results for body, mind, and soul.

I end this article with quite a quote by Paula Radcliffe (three-time London and New York marathon winner) – “In long-distance events, the importance of your mental state in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated.

Something for all of us to reflect on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Gear Comments Off on Making trail running easier |

Making trail running easier

Deepthi Velkur reviews the Nathan TrailMix Plus Insulated 2 Hydration Belt that is useful for trail runners.

The Marathon season is upon us now and it is always a good time to discuss the essential running gear that makes our long runs easier to deal with. An avid runner is quite familiar with the benefits and convenience of using running accessories, but, with the options flooding the market, it is important for us to review and determine what actually makes a difference to each one of us.

We all know that long-distance running is an endurance sport and like in all other endurance sports, hydration is key. It is a no-brainer that you need to have a constant supply of fluids with you if you want to survive and endure the amazing sport of running.

There are a number of ways you can hydrate yourself during a run like making pit stops at water stations, wearing a hydration belt or by using a hand-held water bottle. If your planning to run for an hour or more and want to run hands-free, a hydration belt is your go-to answer.

A hydration belt is an ingenious invention that holds not only your water bottle but can stash away your other essentials like the phone, sports gels, light snack, keys, and money leaving you to run free. There are a plethora of choices in the market for a running belt and to choose the right running belt depends on your individual running needs and also the type of runner you are such as a trail runner, long-distance runner, casual runner or a beginner. You also need to determine how much water you consume and the amount of storage space you need.

Features

Here is why I think you should consider the Nathan Trail Mix Plus Insulated Hydration pack –

  • SpeedFit holster with two 300ml Fire and Ice reflective and insulated flasks ensure quick one-handed access.
  • Zippered pocket with key ring clip and front stash pouch for gels, compatible with iPhone 6 Plus.
  • The ergo-shaped insulated belt is made from a soft monofilament material secures firmly around your hip and has a lightweight buckle closure which allows multi-directional stretching to give you a proper fit and eliminates bounce
  • Dual shock cords with one-pull tension lock for energy gels and glove storage
  • Double- wall flask construction keeps fluids cooler, 20% longer than other insulated flasks.
  • It is ultra-lightweight and comfortable providing an easy on the fly access to hydration and nutrition without slowing down your pace.
  • It weighs just 258g – so light and easy.

On long runs and I didn’t experience any problems like bouncing or bottles coming out of the holster. The balance and the location of the weight are excellent and with the pocket that is capable of holding a good amount of my running essentials, the TrailMix Plus is a perfect accompaniment to your running gear.

Price

The Nathan TrailMix Plus Insulated is available on www.amazon.in and costs INR 7423.

Final Word

Let’s face it – running or for that matter any aerobic exercise is tough. Hydration belts help us stay hydrated, focused and with this belt in, particular, it also removes the strain of carrying personal items thus making the run a better experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Featured Comments Off on Miles, mountains and memories |

Miles, mountains and memories

A look at Ultra runners who attempted the 870 mile Himalaya run, by Capt Seshadri.

This is one of the ultimate trials of endurance and an outstanding example of mind over muscle. It is also a journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. And breathtaking, not just to the eye, but to the lungs as well.

The Great Himalaya Trail or the GHT, is an extremely physically taxing and psychologically draining, but rewarding ultra run, with a ‘high’ that transcends all altitudes. 870 miles or 1400 km of grueling track, at times reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet in extreme and often fluctuating weather conditions, icy cold wind, driving snow and a harsh sun that glows with an unearthly light over the mountains. Moreover, rather than a well traversed, official route, the GHT is a set of interconnected smaller, unofficial trails.

A record for this, popularly known as the Fastest Known Time, or FKT, was set by South African Andrew Porter in an astounding time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. In an attempt to surpass this zenith of human endurance, 36 year old Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, 38, set forth on February 28, 2018 from Hilsa in Nepal, with the object of reaching Pashupatinagar on the Indo-Nepal border, in the fastest possible time. The duo followed the same path as Porter, with the same checkpoints, naturally keeping the record in mind.

This 870 mile route includes 230,000 feet of climbing both up and down in the mountains, combining upper and middle level routes often referred to as the Great Himalayan Trail, its high and its cultural routes. The world’s tallest mountains were on view as they toiled on, while passing the base camp of Kanchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. Along the route were several designated checkpoints, starting with Simikot at an early 77 km, through Chharka Bhot at roughly 380 km and the closer to the finish point Tumlingtar, at roughly 1,075 km, with 300 plus km still to go.

The runners had to navigate their paths on their own. No porters, no mules, but with 20 litre Salomon backpacks filled with energy bars, dietary supplements and equipment critical to each of the segments they had to traverse. Six pre-determined resupply points en route would provide short eats and nutritious snacks to keep their energy levels at their peak. For regular relief, basic food and water, they would depend on villages along the route and rest and recuperate in the tea huts that dot the paths. Villagers’ homes and monasteries were their lodgings and Sandes and Griesel heaped praise on the hospitality and warmth of their temporary hosts. Says Ryan: “One of the villages, a spot where we had hoped to get accommodation, was completely deserted. I honestly believe that if we hadn’t come across a monk and monastery that night, we would have frozen to death.”

If it wasn’t the altitude and the shortage of oxygen, it was the chilling danger of frostbite. In spite of adequate clothing and accessories, Ryan and Ryno were exposed to painful chillblains, especially on their fingers, as they had to constantly remove their gloves to read the maps. Finally, after almost a month of body and mind sapping endurance and pressure, a new speed record was set. On March 26, 2018, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel completed the 870 mile GHT in an unbelievable time of 25 days, 3 hours, and 24 minutes, a good three days ahead of the old time set by Andrew Porter.

Every year, several women and men rise above odds and conquer mountains. This conquest however, was of a different nature. It was a conquest by the mind, of its superiority over the body, dictating its terms and winning.

Some more fabulous feats by these wonder athletes

Andrew Porter holds the solo male record for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT). He did a North-to-South run in December 2009 and set the record at 61 hours 24 minutes 11 seconds. Not satisfied with this effort, he returned to the venue in end May 2015 and did a solo South-to-North DGT in 45 hours 8 minutes.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel hold the men’s group record for the DGT, of 41 hours, 49 minutes, set in March 2014. Ryno held the previous men’s group record of 60 hours 29 minutes set in April 2010, along with teammate Cobus van Zyl.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Events Comments Off on A Run for No Food Waste |

A Run for No Food Waste




South Tamil Nadu will celebrate their Republic Day weekend by running for a cause, with the Nellai Marathon in Tirunelveli on January 28th 2018.  

A run that lets you explore the most scenic and beautiful nature trails in the Tirunelveli region. A run that supports the noble cause of ensuring no food waste. A run that is the largest in South Tamil Nadu. All these are the reasons you should not miss the Nellai Marathon this January.

Every year the Nellai Runners, organize The Nellai Marathon that includes a Half-Marathon (21K), 10K and 5K. The number of runners has been growing every year since the first year, which saw 5000 runners. All runners will be given a special Go Dry Tee which is the perfect running gear this year. If you want to train for the marathon there are training runs happening every Wednesday and Saturday. Check the nellaimarathon.com for more details.

Nellai Runners are a group of running, cycling and fitness enthusiasts who love the outdoors and are passionate about the environment. They organize runs to promote healthy living and fitness and actively organize runs with training assistance through the year.

Meet the runners

The Nellai marathon attracts its own set of experienced and amateur runners. This year we will have ultra runner Ahmed Hanifa joining the crowds of enthusiastic runners. Hanifa is a corporate employee who has grown into a passionate ultra runner who can finish a 50km race with ease. His passion has made him push his limits and even run a full ironman triathlon. His love for running different trails has brought him out to the Nellai marathon this year.

This Year’s Cause – No Food Waste

The proceeds from this year’s run will be supporting a very noble cause -No Food Waste, a Non-profit organization (www.nofoodwaste.in). This organization focuses on delivering surplus foods from Weddings, Parties and other events to the hungry and deprived. The organisation exists across many cities in India and will be launching its newest chapter in Tirunelveli.

What you can do in Tirunelveli

When you have the long weekend, use it to explore and stroll down the shores of the Thamaraibarani River or visit the Kalakaddu Sanctuary or go boating at the glorious Manimuthar Dam. You can also enjoy the glorious Kutralam falls, and celebrate finishing your race with a delicious bite of the famous, Tirunelveli Halwa.

Nellai Marathon is a must visit for running enthusiasts for its unique race route and an enthusiastic set of runners who love to keep everyone motivated to start living healthy.

Click here to register for Nellai Marathon==>>https://goo.gl/gsN8NN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Motivation Comments Off on Half to Fifty |

Half to Fifty

Arun Nair finds his way to the finisher of the The Malnad Ultra, Santosh Neelangattil, to understand what it takes to be an Ultra runner. 

It was Saturday morning when I packed my bags and drove towards Birur, a small town in Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. It was a pleasant ride through the national and state highways of rural Karnataka. I have had the opportunity to meet various running groups from South India and I had come to this location without understanding what an Ultra Trail entails. I meet a group of young runners and was pleasantly surprised when they mentioned that they trekked up a hill sometimes to go for a 10k run.

In a day an age when it is fashionable to say, ‘I am a runner”, I met  the unassuming Santosh Neelangattil. He did not look like someone who had completed a 50km race. A few excerpts from our conversation on all things running.

Congratulations on finishing your first Ultra run. How was the experience and how do you feel?
It’s exhilarating. Every kilometer after forty-two km was a milestone, as I was tracing them for the first time. Completing fifty km within the cut-off time and injury free was a significant achievement for me considering the condition of the trail. The experience was entirely different. A trail-run in a coffee estate! When I reached the place, it was dry all around. Rain in the evening changed the conditions altogether. It became slushy and slippery. It was even difficult to walk in some places. From planning for an ultra-run, it became an endurance run. After a while, I had to cross certain stretches by holding on to the coffee plant twigs. It was an unknown terrain as a lot of us were not sure on the depth of those slushy areas. At this point, the run got elevated from an endurance run to an obstacle run, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. It became all the more important for me to complete the run.

So in those tough conditions what kept you going?
It was the fellow runners and the volunteers! The seasoned ultra-runners kept encouraging and were giving bits of advice. The localities were providing unconditional support to all the runners by motivating us. By the way, I forgot to tell you about the leeches.

So how did this journey as a runner start for you?
This feeling of “Can I run?” started in 2006. I realized that I struggled to walk for one kilometer. I got a feeling that there were abnormalities in my health. Then I went through consultations, health check-ups, and supplements. I had to change. That’s when I heard about Sunfeast 10k run 2007. I practiced for it, and then I never missed Sunfeast or TCS run as it’s called now.

I love traveling. It was at this point that I decided to go for run-tour. So, my vacations and business meetings started getting planned around marathons. I have participated in several runs in last ten years – Kochi, Trivandrum, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cherrapunjee, Auroville (Pondicherry), Dubai, Australia and Sri Lanka. The beauty of my runs changed from health to the joy of running. My vacations will never be complete with two or three runs if not an event. I would go running on the beaches and explore new places which are otherwise not accessible on a vehicle. It became all the more interesting.

If you were to give a few tips to a new runner, what would you tell them?
‘Stay fit to run fit.’ When I started running, I was looking at finishing faster. That’s when a mentor, coach, and being part of a group helped me a lot. A renowned coach in Karnataka, Kothandapani sir, is my mentor. He just asked me one question, “Do you want to run for just this run or are you planning to run long?” Well, my answer was “I want to run long and run for many years.” I realized slowly that it was important to be fit to run. There was no point in getting injured and stop running. Then there were some outstanding seniors – Arvind, Ganesh, Subbu and the Team Miles Ahead (TMA) group gave me a lot of input on running safely without injuring.

For a typical one hour run, twenty to thirty minutes of warm-up and fifteen to twenty minutes of cool down post run is required. Warm-up and warm-down is something I know most of them miss out. It’s the most annoying part. We tend to get lazy when it is about warm-up as it’s not as exciting as running. My advice is simple, don’t miss your warm-up and warm-down.

For this particular Ultra Run was there any specific training preparation for it?
Longer training! Well, it’s also about conditioning my mind. If I have to advise runners for ultra-run – “If you can run ten km, you can run longer. Know your pace, listen to your body and don’t compete with others. You are your competition. No point in competing against anyone.” Do not experiment with your body unknowingly. Don’t harm your body to the extent that your day-to-day activities are affected. Run for the joy of running.

So when is the next race?
I enjoy my runs, and I know that there is always a new challenge. If you like to hear some numbers, (smiles) – my running app shows that I have completed 4500 km since 2014. Then there are many, that were not tracked. Tracking helps, and it motivates me. If you want me to be specific, my dream is to run Bangalore – Mysore, which is 150 km.

During our casual chat, he told me that there were days when he struggled to finish even 500 meters. There is something that I should personally learn, or maybe a lot of us should learn. As an irregular runner of short distance I know the struggle and it certainly felt good that even seasoned runners were not always motivated to run 10K everyday when they step out of bed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arun_Profile Pic

 

Arun K Nair loves to play cricket, volleyball, and shuttle. He participates in 10k marathons in Chennai and Bangalore and is the author of a crime novel.

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